Our friends at the Claremont Institute have compiled this year’s annual Very Claremont Christmas recommending books that would make great presents. In the same spirit I write to note that some of our favorite writers published important books this year. Several of them responded to our requests for comments discussing the books for Power Line readers:
David Gelernter, Judaism: A Way of Being: Professor Gelernter discussed his book here.
Steven F. Hayward, The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution: 1980-1989: Hayward discussed this concluding volume of his Age of Reagan here.
David Horowitz, A Cracking of the Heart: Horowitz discussed this moving remembrance of his daughter here.
Mark Moyar, A Question of Command: Counterinsurgency from the Civil War to Iraq (Yale Library of Military History): Professor Moyar discussed his book here.
Ronald Radosh and Allis Radosh, A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel: The Radoshes discussed their book here.
Peter Schweizer, Architects of Ruin: Schweizer discussed his book here.
Dan Senor and Saul Singer, Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle: Senor and Singer discussed their book here.
Terry Teachout, Pops: A Life of Louis Armonstrong: Teachout discussed his book here.
In addition, I want to note the following (mostly new) books, and one new recording:
Morris Dickstein, Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression: Jonah Goldberg remarks in passing in Liberal Fascism that he lacked the space to address the popular culture of the New Deal as fully as it deserves. The subject of a withering review by Mark Steyn in the December Commentary, Dickstein’s book is probably not quite what Goldberg had in mind, but this book nevertheless represents the lifework of a serious scholar and it will have to do for the foreseeable future.
John V. Fleming, The Anti-Communist Manifestos: Four Books That Shaped the Cold War: Norman Podhoretz invoked the metaphor of The Bloody Crossroads to title his study of the intersection of literature and politics in some notable modern works. Fleming returns to “the bloody crossroads,” but narrows the scope to study the four most popular anti-Communist works published in the United States during the Cold War. A propos of one of the four books, Fleming writes: “Normal history is suspect because it is written by the winners. The history of left-wing literature in America…is suspect because it was written by the losers, most of them sore losers at that.” Professor emeritus of literature at Princeton, Fleming means to rescue what is in his hands a remarkable piece of literary history. He does it in this book with passion and style.
Anne Heller, Ayn Rand and the World She Made: Ayn Rand was born a Russian Jew, but she recreated herself in the United States as a best-selling author writing melodramas of ideas (to borrow Heller’s formula). Heller’s thoroughly researched biography tells the compelling story of Rand’s life and works, which, while never falling from popularity, have received renewed attention in the Age of Obama. Rand’s colorful personal story comes with shadings that her melodramas lacked. (I omit Jennifer Burns’s Goddess of the Market only because I haven’t read it.)
Michael Ledeen, Accomplice to Evil: Iran and the War Against the West: Ledeen has been writing about the problem of Iran for the past 30 years. As Iran stands on the verge of going critical, this may be his most important book on the challenge presented by what our president is pleased to call the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Seth Lipsky, The Citizen’s Constitution: An Annotated Guide: Lipsky discussed his useful new book with James Taranto here.
Andrew McCarthy, Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad: McCarthy was of course the lead prosecutor in the case of the Blind Sheikh and others in connection with the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. This memoir recounts his experience together with lessons learned. When it comes to the subject of federal trials for unlawful combatants, McCarthy is like Walt Whitman: He is the man, he suffer’d, he was there. I find myself returning to this book regularly.
Norman Podhoretz, Why Are Jews Liberal?: Podhoretz provides his answer to a vexing question.
Paul Rahe, Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift and Montesquieu and the Logic of Liberty: Occasional Power Line contributor Paul Rahe has devoted his scholarly career to the origins and evolution of self-government in the West. These two books both possess the inherent interest of their subject matter In the hands of a scholar who is preeminent in his field. Soft Despotism has the added attraction of timeliness in the context of our current political situation.
Amiity Shlaes, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression: I doubt that Shlaes thought she was writing a tract for the times when she wrote this book, but it turns out she may as well have been. She discussed the book here.
Mark Steyn and Jessica Martin, Gingerbread and Eggnog: For Christmas 2008, columnist to the world Mark Steyn teamed up with his British show biz pal Jessica Martin on “A Marshmallow World,” a recording that contributed to the sum of human happiness. It also proved popular, at one point reaching number 7 on Amazon’s bestselling easy listening downloads and number 41 on the main pop vocal chart, and getting airplay in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. This extended play compact disc is Steyn and Martin’s equally engaging encore.
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